Roll Up My Sleeves and Serve!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, March 29, 2014

 

today I woke up

Roll Up My Sleeves and Serve!

I haven’t been as active in serving in the past few years. That was one reason why I think God (as I understand God) nudged me to get more active and to serve with intentionality. I know, I have this year, in a number of different ways. However, I took the opportunity to roll up my sleeves this afternoon. Not metaphorically, but in actuality. I served food at the Community Kitchen of A Just Harvest.

I am a member at St. Peter’s UCC Church in Skokie. So when the pastor sent out a last-minute email request to a group of people, I said “Yes!” Yes, with eagerness! Since this was a month with a fifth Saturday, it is St. Peter’s turn to serve. I was one of nine people who went to serve a hot dinner! The pastor, Rev . Richard Lanford, led the serving team and said grace over the dinner tonight.

A number of years before this, I was much more active in ministries like this—especially when I lived further south in central Chicago. I was a volunteer youth worker and music ministry worker at Austin Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church for five years during the 1980’s. I lived only a few blocks from the North Austin neighborhood of Chicago. I suppose I was naively over-confident as I went in and out of that church, walked the streets, and went in and out of several members’ houses close by. It was not exactly the safest area of the city. Nevertheless, I did a great deal of worthwhile ministry in those years!

As I moved into my thirties, I still served and did ministry in the Austin area, although I had changed churches. Changed ministries, too. I moved much more into missions, and served as volunteer communications coordinator. Was very happy, too! But, Stephen Ministry and then seminary happened. I branched out into preaching. And being a chaplain, for some years. (Anyone follow me on Twitter? My Twitter handle is @chaplaineliza. <grin>)

However, God seems to be nudging me back into direct service with people. On the front lines of service, where I was in my twenties.
I enjoyed myself tonight! It felt deep-down good to do what I could at the Community Kitchen. I put cookies and fruit on plates, helping to fill hungry stomachs in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. I appreciated the hard work of the staff in the kitchen, DJ as supervisor of the serving area and front end, and Tonya as supervisor of the dining area. And David Crawford, the Director of Food Service? He’s got a great operation there. Everything worked like clockwork. I have a huge amount of respect for him, and the wonderful work A Just Harvest does, on a regular basis.

Sure, I was people-watching, too. Just in case I knew any of these dear people who came to eat at the Community Kitchen. I don’t think I did recognize anyone, but it could happen.

Every day brings something interesting, that’s for sure. I wonder what God will send me tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza
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Filling Hungry Stomachs? Being Kind! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog –Friday, March 21, 2014

help local food pantries

Filling Hungry Stomachs? Being Kind!

This month of March has five Saturdays. That means St. Peter’s UCC Church in Skokie is getting ready to prepare and serve a hot dinner for the Community Kitchen at A Just Harvest! Yes, every month with a fifth Saturday is St. Peter’s turn to serve. The pastor, Rev . Richard Lanford, along with the food coordinator Sue Bailey and the volunteer/server coordinator Beth Lanford, facilitate the ministry at the church to fill hungry stomachs in Chicago.

This partnership with A Just Harvest has been active for 30 years. Years ago, the congregation at St. Peter’s Church supplied a hot meal for the Kitchen once a month. Now, they still serve, but not as often. Every fifth Saturday. And what is served to these hungry people? A hot meal, including bread, cookies and something nourishing to drink. Recently, it’s been sloppy joes. Ground beef mixed with onions, celery, pepper, sweet relish, and a whole host of different spices. (Makes me hungry just thinking about it!)

But, just what is “A Just Harvest,” anyway?

This ministry gives people an additional resource against hunger. It’s located in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. Formerly known as Good News Community Kitchen, A Just Harvest was founded by the Good News Community Church in Chicago and First Congregational Church of Wilmette. These two congregations began serving a weekly meal – each contributing food and volunteers. By 1991, A Just Harvest was serving dinner seven nights a week. They are partners with more than 35 religious congregations and community organizations.

A Just Harvest makes certain that—on most any night—as many as 200 people (mostly from the city of Chicago, but also from the Chicagoland area) are fed and get enough to eat. The most the volunteers have served on a particular night is 229! But those numbers don’t tell the full story. A Just Harvest is there, in Rogers Park, for people from all walks of life. Many and varied reasons exist for people to suddenly become homeless. This ministry is here for anyone from any walk of life. People can be confronted by choices: the choice between paying the rent, or putting food on the table. Or, paying for necessary medication, and getting enough to eat.

This ministry is also involved in various other kinds of good works. They provide things that homeless people or people who have lost their jobs really need! What about workers, who don’t make quite enough to carry them through until the next paycheck? (The ones whose jobs don’t pay enough to cover basic needs?) Plus, providing for children who are either in poverty, or almost to that poverty line, displays God’s provision and encouragement.

St. Peter’s congregation members and friends serve dinner, true. But they do a whole lot more, just by faithfully showing up. Thank God for faithful congregations like St. Peter’s! And, God bless A Just Harvest, their staff and clients, And may God bless the many good, kind gifts the ministry receives every day.

@chaplaineliza

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